Whenever it’s free agency time in a sport, it’s the players at the top of the free agent list that usually grab the most headlines. However, sometimes it’s the under-the-radar signings that can really help a team get better. Adding players at lower salaries can help teams improve their rosters without breaking the bank. Here are five NFL free agents who may not be getting as much publicity as others in 2019 but could make an impact on the upcoming season.
Tyrod Taylor, QB
Benching QB Tyrod Taylor in favor of rookie Baker Mayfield was probably the best personnel move the Browns made last season, but it likely depressed Taylor’s value on the market this offseason. Taylor is a mobile quarterback who showed some promise when he was starting for the Bills, but an overall lack of offense in Buffalo limited his production.
After only making three starts for Cleveland in 2018, Taylor is probably going to have to sign a short-term deal to prove his value if he wants to get a longer-term deal in the future. But he will be 30 when the season begins, so his window is closing. With the Jaguars expected to sign QB Nick Foles, Taylor could prove to be a bargain under center for a quarterback-needy team, especially if he has a good receiving corps around him. That’s why he could be among the best NFL free agents in 2019.
Tyrell Williams, WR
While he’s not a free agent, Steelers WR Antonio Brown could be getting the most buzz among wide receivers who are potentially available. But WR Tyrell Williams could be the best of the low-profile NFL free agents. He recorded 69 catches and 1,059 yards in his first full season in the league in 2016. He hasn’t matched those numbers in the last two seasons with the Chargers, but that is partially because he hasn’t been targeted as much. Williams had 69 targets in 2017 and 65 last year. Not coincidentally, Williams’ targets and touches went down with the emergence of WR Keenan Allen as the Chargers’ No. 1 pass-catcher.
If Williams, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 205 pounds, can get a bigger workload, he has the physical attributes to be a low-end No. 1 or high-end No. 2 receiver. At 27 years old, he is entering what should be the prime of his career.
Tyler Eifert, TE
TE Tyler Eifert has the upside of being one of the NFL’s best players at his position, but injuries have limited his playing time throughout his career. Since entering the league with the Bengals in 2013, Eifert has played in at least 12 games just twice — 2013 and 2015 — and hasn’t played in more than eight games in any of his other four seasons.
He played in just four games last season due to a broken ankle, but since the injury occurred so early in the 2018 campaign, Eifert has had ample time to recover. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015 after scoring 13 touchdowns on 52 receptions, which shows the type of upside he has. The 6-6, 255-pound tight end is the perfect example of the cliche “high-risk, high-reward” player. A team could be wise to sign Eifert to an incentive-laden contract with the hope that he can stay on the field and prove to be one of the top NFL free agents in 2019.
Danny Shelton, DT
The Patriots traded for DT Danny Shelton last offseason, which should tell you all you need to know about his potential. He appeared in 13 games for the eventual Super Bowl LIII champs but made just one start. His limited workload in 2018 could make Shelton a bargain entering free agency. He had the best season of his career in 2016 when he recorded 59 tackles and the only 1.5 sacks of his career. Put into the right defensive system, Shelton could help a team get to the next level at a relatively low price.
Terrell Suggs, LB
With the Texans using the franchise tag on DE Jadeveon Clowney, it takes one of the top defensive NFL free agents off the board. That could be good news for LB Terrell Suggs as the 36-year-old enters free agency for potentially the last time in his career. He has played for the Ravens throughout his 16-year career, and he said in January that he would like to stay in Baltimore. However, the lure of getting a second Super Bowl title could be enough to get the veteran to go to another team that may be closer to competing than the Ravens. His recent stats — including 18 sacks over last two seasons — show that Suggs can still put up good numbers for whatever team signs him.